The Colts' season came to a bitter end last night in what wasn't really a close game once we were a few minutes into the 4th quarter. But overall the season has been a great one and one which showed a lot of promise for the future. I for one think the Colts exceeded my expectations for this team at the start of the season. That being said, this team still had many glaring weaknesses, which at times made them look like a rebuilding team somehow being carried through the playoffs by one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. They are going to need to fill in those gaps if they want to make another jump next year. Although, they don't have their 1st round draft pick, they will have an estimated 36 million free in cap room, which is well more than enough for Ryan Grigson to do a better job in free agency than last year. He needs to find some good players to bring in to this team, which overall, I'd say he probably failed at last season.
Here's a look at the positions of highest priority that the Colts need an upgrade at:
The Colts were second in the NFL this season behind the Browns with their quarterback being hit 182 times. That's not good. At all.
The main positions of need on the O-line are center and right guard. Samson Satele, Mike McGlynn and Joe Reitz aren't the answers on the O-line and if we can find solid replacements for both of them we could have a decent O-line next season.
Last offseason the Colts made a big deal out of bringing Greg Toler and Laron Landry in to revamp the secondary and it looked like it could be one of the better secondaries in the NFL. But both Toler and Landry, when they've played, have been major disappointments. Toler got beat way too often and Landry will be remembered for his numerous whiffs and biting on play action allowing the receivers to get open deep. I don't know if the Colts will do this but I don't think Landry should be back next season, it's time to develop Delano Howell.
Votae Davis and Antoine Bethea are both unrestricted free agents. I think you pretty much need to bring Bethea back. He had a few sore points this season but overall is and has been Mr. Consistent for our defense and there aren't any safeties in today's NFL who are much better than him. Vontae Davis has been a disappointment since coming to Indy, other than maybe the first 7 games of this season, I think it's best to look for a better corner in free agency or in the draft. (Richard Sherman was taken in the 5th round, can we get some of that luck?)
The Colts were the seventh worst run defense this season. They don't have enough muscle on the interior to consistently stop the run. Other than Cory Redding, we need better players on the D-line to consistently stop the run. This is actually a position where they could make a splash in free agency with there being some very nice names out there.
Positions that aren't a top priority but could still use an upgrade:
Jerrell Freeman is clearly the future for this team at MLB but they need another solid one to join him. Pat Angerer is injured too often and is too mediocre when he plays. I'm not sure how many quality ILBs will be available in free agency so the Colts might need to look into the draft to fill this position in.
I think we're pretty set at OLB. I think Werner showed enough promise at the end of last year that he can be a solid OLB opposite Mathis. The Colts will probably continue to develop him next season and eventually he'll overtake Walden.
This position suddenly in the past few weeks hasn't looked like as big of a need. Next year they'll have the proven Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton and they'll be able to develop Lavon Brazil and Da'rick Rogers who both look like they have loads of potential. Griff Whalen will also be a very nice option as a slot type guy. There are some decent options though in free agency and if they can get a hold of a veteran receiver that'd be great. I don't really think they should look in the draft because what they need most is a veteran, someone that Andrew Luck can trust 100% besides Reggie Wayne.
Dwayne Allen will come back next season which will give us a great tight end combination of Fleener and Allen. Allen looked great in his rookie season which led some to believe he could be one of the better tight ends in the league in a few years time.
Positions that probably don't need much of a change:
Donald Brown and Bradshaw are set to be free agents this offseason. There's no way we let Brown go after the season he just had; Bradshaw there's no need to bring back. With Vick Ballard, Donald Brown and Trent Richardson we'll have a nice running back rotation that should be effective.